Have you ever walked into a mediation session and just felt like something was off?
Your gut is telling you this mediator has an agenda, they’re not listening, or they just don’t seem to grasp the complexity of your situation. You want to resolve this dispute, but now you’re worried the mediator is going to make things worse, not better. So what do you do?
Warning Signs Your Mediator Is Biased
If your mediator seems overly friendly with one party or is quick to dismiss your concerns, it may be a sign they can’t be impartial.
Some warning signs your mediator is biased:
•They spend more time with the other party. If your mediator is chatting with the other side for long periods but rushes you or cuts you off, they likely favor them.
•They ignore key details you provide. If you give important information that contradicts what the other party claims and your mediator disregards it, they may have already made up their mind.
•They make assumptions not based on facts. A mediator should draw conclusions based only on evidence provided, not speculation. If they make claims not substantiated by anything said in mediation, their bias is showing.
•They pressure you to settle. While mediators aim for resolution, they should never push unfair settlements. If your mediator urges you to accept terms that don’t meet your needs, they care more about closing the deal than fairness.
•They share confidential details. Anything said in mediation should stay private. If your mediator discloses sensitive information you provided to the other party, they have breached ethics and cannot be trusted.
•Your gut says something’s off. Even if there are no obvious signs, go with your instinct. If something feels wrong about the mediator’s handling of the process, you’re probably right. Don’t hesitate to report them and request a new mediator.
Your mediator’s role is to be a neutral third party. If at any point you suspect they are biased or untrustworthy, speak up right away. You deserve a fair mediator focused on justice and resolution, not on pushing their own agenda.
How to Address Concerns With Your Mediator
If you have concerns about your mediator’s impartiality or competence, it’s important to address them. Don’t stay silent – that will only make the situation worse.
First, speak to your mediator directly and voice your specific concerns. Explain how their words or actions made you question their neutrality or ability to handle the mediation properly. Give concrete examples. See how they respond – do they get defensive or take your feedback seriously?
A good mediator will acknowledge your concerns, clarify any misunderstandings, and reaffirm their commitment to an unbiased process.
Request a New Mediator
If after talking with them you still don’t feel confident in the mediator, you may need to request a new one. You can ask the mediation organization that assigned them to assign a different mediator to your case.
Explain your situation objectively and provide clear reasons why you believe the current mediator is not the right fit.
You can also report inappropriate behavior to the proper authorities. While mediators should maintain confidentiality, if their actions were truly unethical you may need to file a formal complaint.
Only do this as a last resort, as it can damage the mediator’s reputation and career.
The most important thing is having a mediator you trust so you can have a productive mediation. If your concerns are not addressed, don’t feel obligated to continue – you always have the right to withdraw from the mediation and pursue other options. But give the process a fair chance first, as a skilled mediator can turn around even a difficult situation.
With open communication, you have a good shot at getting the mediation back on track.
Don’t waste any more time or money on a bad mediation.
You deserve to feel heard, supported, and empowered during what is already a difficult situation. Trust your instincts—if things feel off, they probably are. Don’t be afraid to speak up and express your concerns to the mediator, or walk away if needed. You can always find another mediator or pursue other options for resolution.
Remember, mediation should be a collaborative process where you feel respected and supported. Don’t settle for anything less.